If you have chosen to breastfeed your baby, there are many reasons why you may consider introducing your baby to a bottle. You may want to start feeding your little one some expressed milk, dad might want in on the feeding duties or you could be returning to work and need them to feel comfortable taking a bottle while you are away.
Whatever the reason, hopefully this guide will help with how to give your child their first bottle, top tips in the early stages of introducing your little one to a bottle and tactics that you can use if your child refuses the bottle.
Giving your child their first bottle
One of the most common issues for babies when they are first introduced to a bottle is getting used to a different sucking action than the one that they were used to when breastfeeding. It will take time for them to get used to this new feeling.
In order to best tackle this, try giving them their first bottle when they are relaxed and happy as opposed to instances when they are crying because they are hungry as they will more likely be wanting to be fed in the way that they are accustomed to. You could offer a bottle after they have finished their regular feeding. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of milk, just a little to get them used to the new feeling of a bottle’s teat.
It is a wise idea to have someone else introduce the bottle, other than mum. This could be dad or a family member who will be looking after them. This way, the baby will not be close to you and recognising you as the one who usually feeds them or smelling your breast milk. You may also want to be out of the house as many babies can still smell their mothers, even from a distance. You should only need to do this a few times until your baby is used to drinking from a bottle.
Refrain from forcing your child to feed from a bottle too much, and only feed them enough milk until they let you know that they have had enough. This needs to be a smooth transition, so your baby will be more likely to refuse if they aren’t enjoying their bottle in the early stages.
What to do if your baby is resisting
If you are struggling to get your baby to make the transition from breast to bottle, there are a few techniques that could work.
You should take the time to find a suitable product for your baby. A bottle with a nipple-like teat, like the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles, will be more appealing. A slow-flow teat can help if your child gags due to regular teats delivering them too much milk at once. Your baby may take to the teat better if you place a little bit of breast milk on it as they will recognise the familiar taste.
Don’t be too quick to take the bottle away if they are chewing on it or just holding it in their mouth rather than taking milk from it. Let them do this for now to familiarise themselves. They may begin sucking when they are used to this new feeling.
Babies may also feel more comfortable if they are fed in a different position to the one that you usually breastfeed them in. Feed them from a bottle if they are in a semi-upright position by maybe having them on your lap but with their back against your chest.
Hopefully these tips will make the introduction to the bottle an easy one.